Saturday, February 16, 2008

The race thing again

This may be a repeat but worth repeating I suppose. I don't want any reader to think of me as any more racist than your average young educated person.

I had a work mate who was Indian. It was not long after he started working at the same place, we discovered that each of us was gay. We both had partners and one of them was one of the brother friends who we are still friends with. We all used to socialize a lot, went to Mardi Gras, Sleaze Ball, dance parties, bars, clubs, picnics, plant nurseries, cafes etc etc. We were pretty close for a long time and after they separated, we remained friends with both and my workmate's various boyfriends along the way.

One day about ten years ago when he was stopping working at the same place and bought a modest house in the country, for reasons we can only speculate on, he told R that he did want us to visit him the country, if fact he did not want to see us again. He did not tell me to my face, just to R for him to repeat. We were shocked and very very hurt. We did not know why and nor could we find out. He also ditched any contact with the brother friends, one being his ex lover. We think we worked out why, but it is only speculation and it took us some time to recover, perhaps a year or more. I became a little bit of a harder person that day.

But that is just background.

One day in my work place, I heard someone call my friend a black c***. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. He wasn't a black c***. Ok, he wasn't born here, but he is a perfectly respectable Australian and my friend and workmate. I wasn't in a position to intervene or say anything and even if I was, I am not sure that I would have. I pretended I didn't hear and my friend pretended that I did not hear.

I was given to wondering how often has this happened to him? He wasn't particularly dark skinned so I would expect it happened more often with darker skinned workmates. How must it be to go through life being called names like that?

Ok, I have my fair share of being called a poofter, but as I get older, I am clearly a less obvious poofter. In fact I haven't heard it for ages. Now, like many women over 40, I have become invisible. I am not noticed or seen. Back then, I could butch it up and not be seen as a poofter.

But if I was black of skin, I could never cover that up. It would be with me from cradle to grave, unless my name is Michael Jackson.

Racism is still alive and well in Australia, but thankfully it is far less obvious and blatant.

Even Muslims and the dislike so many feel towards them, is not racism. It is dislike of what is done in the name of religion and attitudes.

While it is not inconceivable that people in Australia still get called black c****, I hope and think it is much less common.

Yes, I am bit racist and so are you dear reader. We all are. But I would not like to be thought of as a racist person.

When I was twenty five years in my workplace, I had to give a speech at my presentation. I pretty well ignored management pricks, but I deeply thanked my workmates from perhaps thirty different countries for the world education that they have given me. From the killing fields of Cambodia, to Rhodesian refugees, the war in The Lebanon, the French in Mauritius, Pinnochet's Chile, white Russians in the old Russia to asking a Jewish person what the word Levantine meant. (I did not even know he was Jewish until later but he was an intellectual type and I knew he would know).

I'm afraid I don't connect so well with new people at work. But the ones I have known a long time I treasure and they are from all over the world. I find I am often ignored a bit by new people from foreign climes at work and then something happens and then suddenly they are really friendly towards me.

I expect they speak to one of their countrymen who I have worked with for a long time and they are told that although I am gay, I am ok. I don't mind being thought of as 'ok'.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Abos again

I don't really care what some people say about the stolen generation. I have heard too many heart wrenching stories from victims this week. I remain my cynical self as always of course. Maybe dirt poor, living on a river bank under a bit of bark, kind of like my stepmother grew up, except she was white, you could be taken away from your mother or the mother could lose you by policy of the government.

Ask any mother, in any country of the world about having her child taken from her, even if she is a drug fucked drunk, it could be life devastating for her and perhaps for the child.

No, I shan't wear any argument. Taking children from the mother just because they were half white and half black was wrong. Of course there are many variables and times when it was the smart thing to do, but the essence was wrong.

Sorry Day, whenever it was, was my day off from work. I listened to quite a lot on the wireless and tears welled up many times.

But you black c*** who tried to freak me out by getting into my face and frightening me from around the corner, well, I saw you do that again this week to someone. You have porked up a bit love since you did that to me. You are looked a bit older, but I remember you.

Yeah, very mixed emotions.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Catch the train

As mentioned, my step mother is visiting us. She is travelling by train from Echuca to Southern Cross Station where R will collect her.

This has caused me to examine Echuca train timetables. It is quite interesting. Keep in mind that by car, it takes about 2 and half hours, that is 150 minutes without a stop.

The minimum train time seems to be 193 mins, well over half an hour more. How can this be? Worse the maximum time seems to be about 210 mins using the combined bus and train service. Most of the services are by bus to Bendigo and then train to Melbourne.

Add to these times, the time to get to and from the stations, you really have to judge your trip by other thoughts. Train travel is much more relaxing and easy. I should think, although I haven't checked, that it would be cheaper than the petrol you use, although my step mother's car is LPG.

Try this one by train only. 16.10 depart Echuca, stop only Rochester and Elmore, at 17. 25 a 10 min break at Bendigo, no more stops until Southern Cross Station, arrive 19.33. How can it take so long? It is rails with nothing to impede it.

The clue could be here. This one is bus only via Heathcote and Murchison East and follows more closely the route you would take if you drove. Echuca 15.05, stop Rochester and Elmore, arrive Southern Cross 17.45. This is comparable with car travel time and the service is using roads, as you would in your motor car.

That a train only service takes so much longer than a bus service on public roads amazes me. I can see that the train takes a slightly longer than as the crow flies route. Anyone have some easy answers?

Terrorism in our midst

Oh, I don't like the sound of these chappies. They are before our courts, so I don't want to say much. If they are found guilty, I hope they are locked up for a long long time.

The bible says quite a bit about smiting and stoning etc etc, but no sensible person takes it too seriously. Not sure why the accused might think of taking so called Islam teachings literally.

This is from yesterday's Herald Sun. There was more reportage today. But I have said enough. You can guess my thoughts.

The leader of a Melbourne-based terrorist group told his members they should kill 1,000 non-believers to try to force the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq, a court has heard.

Among targets discussed to inflict maximum casualties were railway stations or football grounds, the Victorian Supreme Court was told today.

In its opening address in Australia's biggest terrorist trial, the prosecution said the group regarded Australia as a country at war and that indiscriminate murder of innocent citizens was justified by the teachings of Islam.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

US Trivia

Ah, talks of racial matters does get folk going. With Latin servants abounding nowadays, I wonder if you live in the US and you are rich, that you not really have any contact with black people? Or perhaps very poor and live in an isolated part of the country in the hills and have no contact?

We certainly can in Australia, but it is about numbers.

Not quite sure why I saved this clip from the august journal, The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. Just interested me at the time.

Another unpublished post finally posted.

Black history is a history that is sewn into the fabric of America.

Consider Dr. Benjamin Carson Sr. who, during a 22-hour operation, performed the first successful surgery to separate conjoined twins. Or Walter S. McAfee, a mathematician and physicist, who first calculated the speed of the moon. And there are many others:

  • Jan Ernst Matzeliger who invented the Shoe Lasting machine, which revolutionized the shoe industry by connecting the upper part of the shoe to the sole.
  • Madame C.J. Walker who developed hair care products, and became the first female self-made millionaire. Boring
  • Andrew Beard who invented the Jenny Coupler, which allowed train cars to hook themselves together when they bumped into each other.
  • Isaac Murphy, a thoroughbred jockey, who was the first to win three Kentucky Derbys and the only jockey to win the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks and the Clark Handicap during the same year. Boring
  • Lonnie G. Johnson, an engineer for NASA, who invented the Supersoaker watergun, which became the No. 1 selling toy in the U.S. in 1991.
  • The Village Green

    The name Village Green makes you think of a communal place where people gather for social chit chat, maybe some children playing and people walking their dogs.

    While I suppose the Village Green Hotel is a communal place but not much talking is done when people are engrossed with their gambling machines. There are kids aplenty playing in the provided play area. As this sort of place goes, it is ok I guess and nothing wrong with the food.

    I looked around for something to impress me, and this is all I could find. It is a splendid gum tree, Eucalypt, with red carpet roses planted at its base. The tree leaves looked so fresh and vibrant and the rose flowers were a vivid red. It would look nice at the centre of a proper village green.

    Dissin' Melbourne

    With 1P parking throughout Saturday and Sunday - penalising visitor and locals alike for spending money in local shops and restaurants - policed with almost gestapo like zeal, what's going on? (and you can't even blame Iemma!)

    A Sydneysider's view of Melbourne. I hope my blog readers from Sydney are more reasonable people.

    I see no reason to not prosecute for parking offences. One hour parking rules will be in place for a reason. That is to turn the parking over so other people get the chance to park. Councils probably get parking rules wrong at times, but essentially the rules are there to please the greater good and manage conflicting parking desires.

    Of course, there is always, shock horror, public transport.

    Some of the parking fees charged by councils is another matter. Yes City of Port Phillip, I mean you.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008


    The subject line is the last bit of silliness and attempted humour in this post. This is serious, so stop laughing.

    You overseas readers can do some research if you are interested in the details but I am not going into them much here. I am less than impressed when Australia is criticized by overseas folk because of the way we have treated our aboriginal population. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    Yes, I expect sometimes it was in the best interest of the children but mostly I doubt it.

    My grandfather died about 1975 I suppose. In his time, much of this happened. He did not know about directly and I am not blaming him for anything, but in his time, aborigines were even shot for sport in our own fair state of Victoria. Perhaps the farmers went rabbit shooting one night and boong shooting the next night.

    Ooops, slipped in bad words there.

    There is no doubt, and who could deny it, that our ancestors treated treated the local native population appallingly. With bad intent or without matters not.

    The results are still around for all to see.

    Should we as a nation and the parliament as our representatives say sorry to the folk who have been in our fair land ever so much longer than us, and then we arrived and lorded it over them?

    Of course we bloody well should.

    PM KRudd, I liked what I heard and I truly hope it makes a difference to some people. I fully support your words and I hope we can now go onward and upward with some rapidity.

    Sharp knives can do that

    I was very sad to hear an ex workmate was murdered at the weekend. She was a tough bird and I would not have wanted her as my mother in law, but I liked her no nonsense style and she could change from being stern to full on laughter in the blink of an eye. With a lazy husband and two sons and moving continents to Australia, her life would not have been easy.

    Vale Mandy. I remember you with good thoughts.

    Yes J, he would have known her, her husband and maybe a son or two.

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    Calm and peaceful weekends

    Work weekend or not, life is way too busy. I need a holiday, well, no just a break from work. I just cannot fit everything in. What about some ME time?

    Friday night the chef went on strike. We were forced to use our two for one voucher at Burger Edge, and very nice it was too. It did entail an outing in the motor though and half an hour's time. Missed the tv news. Work the next day.

    Saturday night, dinner with friends at KL Cafe. We had a very good meal and I forced the brother friends into paying for the parking by hopelessly looking into my wallet and saying that I needed my dollar coin for coffee at work the next day. It is the little victories in life that please me. Work the next day.

    Sunday night. Dyke friends cooked us a marvellous dinner and we discussed what to do about Dame M who is refusing to attend for xrays. Work the next day.

    Next weekend will be no better, but at least I have some time off. Nephew's 21st oldies celebration on Sunday at downtown Langwarrin, but worse, step mother arriving from Echuca to stay with us on Saturday and we go together to the Sunday barbe 21st. She will stay for two nights and it should be good fun. She did stay with us once when we lived in Glen Iris, but she never saw our Burwood or Balaclava place and she has never been here. It was going to be hard work guiding her to where we live if she drove, but she said she will catch the train. We just have to pick her up from the station. So much easier.

    Now, can all youse favourite bloggers of mine just not post for the next few days and free up some of my time.

    TV Alert

    I reckon Mary Hardy was fabulous. I have written about her a few times in the past. Mentally frail, not exactly stunning looks, funny, quick witted, vulgar, great aunt of The Age's Green Guide columnist Marieke Hardy and sister of infamous communist and author Frank Hardy.

    We were deprived of her talents when she ended her own life, but in tv footage, she lives on. Tomorrow night on ABC1 she is featured in Artscape at 10pm. I won't be missing it.

    Previous mentions on my blog of Mary Hardy in reverse order. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

    Sculpture and Spirit

    I have posted a picture of the Spirit of Tasmania before, but this is a better one. The Spirit sails daily to Devonport, Tasmania daily, departing Station Pier at 8pm and arriving at Devonport at 7am. It is quite a nice tub and you can take your car with you. Extra sailing are scheduled during the warmer months. It is not especially cheap compared to flying, but a relaxing way to travel I imagine.

    Did I read the inscription on this sculpture? Maybe, but if I did, it created such an impact that I have totally forgotten what is was about.

    My method of judging public art, that is how many people stop and look, indicated that people were indifferent to it. I certainly am.